An excerpt from my newly-launching book, She Has Risen: Resurrect Your Divine Feminine Wisdom and Celebrate Your Miraculous Girly Bits. This is from Chapter 1, called Acknowledge Your Divinity.
“Growing up with an East Indian father, I was always fascinated when we’d visit relatives’ homes. As a child, I’d go exploring throughout the house to discover the many different shrines nestled in corners of rooms. I’d often find alters adorned with candles and incense, prayer pillows and pictures of deities that looked both male and female to me. So many of India’s sculptures, paintings and spiritual figures are neither masculine nor feminine —they’re both. I found all of this so remarkable, comforting and confusing at the same time.
As a young adult, learning more about these deities piqued my curiosity, so I took a few university courses on eastern religions. I could write piles of essays on these topics, but it wasn’t until I ventured to India that I really began to understand the broad spectrum of spirituality, religion, the power of the Divine Feminine and her grace.
India simply took my breath away. It is a most awe-inspiring country, sheer intensity for each of the senses—and senses I didn’t even know I had. A part of me felt so ignited and alive there, something I hadn’t ever experienced in Western society. In many ways, going to India was like waking up for me, particularly when it came to expressing and understanding more about my Divine Feminine power and wisdom. It’s like Mother Nature brought me home to India, and this incredible country helped me acknowledge the divinity that exists within me and within each of us.
I spent time in an ashram in Rishikesh, nestled deep in the Himalayan mountains, where each morning and evening, my husband and I would gather with two hundred orphans and other pilgrims for aarrti, the daily ritual prayers. They took place along the Gungaji, the Ganges River. And as we offered ourselves, our thoughts, desires, actions and things to God, I’d find myself staring at the androgynous statue of Krishna that was so revered that it rose several storeys above the water. We’d sing songs, clap our hands and praise this universal life force that captures all things as one. It was pure joy.
In Hindu India, the Divine Feminine power is not only recognized, it’s honoured. Great rivers are named for goddesses. The ocean and the earth are considered the Mother, the trees her arms, the mountains her breasts, the plants her nourishment and the sky her lover.* In the Hindu tradition, Mother as God is reflected in the names of Aditi, Devi, Gayatri, Kali, Kamala, Lakshmi, Parvati, Saraswati, Shakti and Usas. There are goddesses of the sun, dawn and starlit nights; there are goddesses of wealth and beauty, wisdom and aging, learning and speech, destruction and time. These goddesses are all considered an accepted and most treasured holy Mother. One of the most beautiful parts of Hinduism, I find, is that it embraces all spiritual traditions and sees all ways as valid paths to the supreme. It starts by recognizing that the entire creation springs from the Mother and that divinity lives within us.”
She Has Risen
Copyright © 2017 by Tanya Sood
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*Bess, Savitri L. The Path of the Mother. Ballantine Wellspring: The Random House Publishing Group, 2000.